Former LSR Fellow, Linda McClain, to Publish Book Worked on During Time at Princeton

Thursday, Aug 1, 2019

Linda McClain, Professor of Law and Robert B. Kent Chair at Boston University School of Law and former Laurance S. Rockefeller Visiting Faculty Fellow at the University Center for Human Values, completed her book, "Who's the Bigot?: Learning from Conflicts over Marriage and Civil Rights Law," due to be published by Oxford University Press in February 2020. 

"The year at Princeton was invaluable for conceiving and making progress on the book," said McClain, who added that her participation the following year in former LSR Fellow Amy Sepinwall’s conference on complicity at UCHV was also a great help to finishing the book.

McClain provided the following paragraph from her author’s questionnaire, describing the book:

“Charges, denials, and countercharges of bigotry are increasingly frequent in the U.S.  Bigotry is a fraught and contested term, evident from the rejoinder that calling out bigotry is political correctness. That is so even though renouncing— and denouncing—bigotry seems to be a shared political value with a long history. Identifying, responding to, and preventing bigotry have engaged the efforts of many people. People disagree, however, over who is a bigot and what makes a belief, attitude, or action bigoted. This book argues that bigotry has both a backward- and forward-looking dimension. We learn bigotry’s meaning by looking to the past, but bigotry also has an important forward-looking dimension. Past examples of bigotry on which there is consensus become the basis for prospective judgments about analogous forms of bigotry. The rhetoric of bigotry—how people use such words as “bigot,” “bigoted,” and “bigotry”—poses puzzles that urgently demand attention. Those include whether bigotry concerns the motivation for or the content of a belief or action; whether reasonableness is a defense to charges of bigotry; whether the bigot is a distinct type, or whether we are all a bit bigoted; and whether “bigotry” is the term society gives to beliefs that now are beyond the pale. This book addresses those puzzles by examining prior controversies over interfaith and interracial marriage and the recent controversy over same-sex marriage, as well as controversies over landmark civil rights law and more recent conflicts between religious liberty and state antidiscrimination laws protecting LGBTQ persons.”